Reviewing Sex Ed Books for Teens and Pre-Teens


Reviewing Sex Ed Books for Teens and Pre-Teens

May 11, 2023
A photo of the two books reviewed in the blog, sitting open on a blanket in the grass.

Have you ever noticed that some conversations are easier to begin when you don’t need to look the other person in the eyes? Some of the most difficult talks I’ve with my parents began while we were in a car facing forward or on the sofa looking at the TV. Books can provide the same support and they can offer information on whatever tricky subject you want to talk about too. 

Last year two excellent new books were published that aim to educate pre-teens, teens, and the champions in their lives about sex, bodies, puberty, relationships, and so much more. Read on to learn about what each offer. 

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Puberty—and Shouldn’t Learn on TikTok

By Gemma Hong and Sophie Young and Illustrated by Amelia Pinney

Divided into four parts—welcome to your new body, your period, changes on the inside, and the changing world—this book is a great starter for every young person. Hong, Young, and Pinney have created an approachable, funny, and gorgeously illustrated guide to all things puberty. In the intro the authors explain that they used their own experiences to inform the book (all three authors are members of Gen Z), as well as the experiences of many teens they spoke to. It shows. 

I would have loved this book as a teen. The diagram showing all the diverse types of hair removal techniques would have saved me from the worst razor burn ever (my first time trying to shave was a nightmare that still makes me cringe). And the special section all about PMS would have taught me more than I learned in my Catholic school’s 5th grade health class. 

You Know, Sex

By Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth

Subtitled ‘Bodies, Gender, Puberty, and Other Things,” this fantastic book tells readers on page one, “There is no right or wrong way to have a body. -Patricia Berne.” And that message is reinforced throughout the next 400+ pages. 

Laid out like a graphic novel, You Know, Sex covers 11 different topics that all teens grapple with, including gender, feelings, consent, talking, and safety! 

In the introduction Silverberg writes, “This book is for adults too! Most adults didn’t have the opportunity to think and talk about sex and gender when they were younger. There will be things in this book that are new for adults.” This much needed reminder nudged me to move more slowly through this book, which follows Mimi, Omar, Cooper, and Zai as they attend their middle school sex ed class, hang out with family, and live their lives. 

These easy to digest books are two that I know I will be giving to any of my future nieces or my friend’s kids as they enter their puberty years.